Synopses & Reviews
Building on the lessons of early labor leaders, civil rights volunteers, and political activists, Jim Diers has developed his own models and successful strategies for community development. Neighbor Power
chronicles his involvement with Seattle's communities. This book not only gives hope that participatory democracy is possible, but it offers practical applications and invaluable lessons for ordinary, caring citizens who want to make a difference. It also provides government officials with inspiring stories and proven programs to help them embrace citizen activists as true partners.
Diers's experience is extensive. He began as a community organizer in 1976, then moved on to help establish and staff a system of consumer-elected medical center councils. This led him to Seattle city government, where he served under three mayors as the first director of the Department of Neighborhoods, recognized as the national leader in such efforts.
In the 1990s, Jim Diers helped Seattle neighborhoods face challenges ranging from gang violence to urban growth. The Neighborhood Matching Fund grew to support over 400 community self-help projects each year while a community-driven planning process involved 30,000 people. Diers provides evidence that productive community life is thriving, not just in Seattle, Washington, but in towns and cities across the globe. Both practical and inspiring, Neighbor Power offers real-life examples of how to build active, creative neighborhoods and enjoy the rich results of community empowerment.
Jim Diers is the liaison to Seattle communities for the University of Washington Office of Partnerships, director of the South Downtown Foundation, and on the faculties of the UW Department of Architecture and the Asset-Based Community Development Institute.
"Jim Diers was the Pied Piper for the Seattle neighborhood movement which built a national and international reputation for its new approach to planning, giving real meaning to the slogan, 'Power to the People.' In describing the potential for this approach to revitalize our cities, his writing is a must-read for citizen activists, urban planners, and elected officials." -- Paul Schell, former Mayor of Seattle
"A very readable account which touches on many of the major challenges facing every city in the country." -- John P. Kretzmann, coauthor of Building Communities from Inside Out
"One of the most hopeful signs for the revitalization of American cities and indeed for the rejuvenation of American democracy is the neighborhood movement which is sweeping communities across America. Jim Diers has chronicled the vigorous debates which accompanied the blossoming of neighborhood power in Seattle. The neighborhood movement in Seattle not only helped cement that city's reputation as one of the most beautiful and civically minded cities in America, but has provided an example for local leader across the nation." -- Henry G. Cisneros, former Secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
"Some writers talk about democracy, but Jim Diers has done it. Here he gracefully shares his invaluable experience, proving that democracy is not something done to us or for us, it's what we ourselves do to create communities that work for all. Neighbor Power is rich in lessons that any community can apply. An antidote to despair-a must read in trying times!" -- Frances Moore Lapp, co-author of Hope's Edge and You Have the Power
"Few people in this country know as much about community building as Jim Diers. The case studies and ideas in this book are extremely powerful evidence that real communities are knit together by the public places they share, and show how small ideas from ordinary citizens can make an entire city thriving and beautiful." -- Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces
"Dozens of towns, cities, and suburbs are replicating the outstanding community building programs pioneered by Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods. Neighbor Power supplies the inspiration and the techniques for building strong neighborhood communities from the ground up." -- Judy Corbett, Executive Director, Sacramento Local Government Commission
"Jim Diers's approach to neighborhood empowerment is gaining popularity in Japan. Thanks to Neighbor Power, we can now put Seattle's programs into action." -- Yuko Nishimura, Komazawa University, Tokyo
"Finally, a book sharing the 'how we did it' of Seattle's neighborhoods. Neighbor Power bursts with inspirational ideas, proven in practice, for building community. It is a must read for all students of planning and community development, local government managers and elected officials, and neighborhood leaders-in fact, anyone who cares about how we live together and create community." -- Linda Campbell, Manager for City Council, Shellharbour, Australia
Providing concrete examples for citizens and government officials, Diers describes a successful program to support community self-help projects and a community-driven planning process that involved 30,000 people.